We need to honor teachers

By Annette Weissman….
Whether I am talking to teachers, parents, or community members, I am often asked about the impact of the financial cutbacks in education. I have not yet addressed this topic in the press, but today I would like to tell you one way in which we have confronted the challenges of a curtailed budget.

As many of you might know, over the past nine years, I have served as a principal of three Miami Dade Public schools. During that time, the financial resources available to me as a principal have declined as the State and County have experienced economic setbacks. For example, this year, I do not have sufficient funds to hire part-time teachers or paraprofessionals to work with small groups of struggling students. We have special reading and mathematics interventions for these students that were very effective in improving student achievement but no one to implement them. So how do provide this support now? The classroom teachers have stepped up to the plate are filling this need for our students.

Here are other examples of the generosity of the teachers. The entire team of fourth grade teachers is foregoing their planning time to ensure that students are prepared for the upcoming FCAT writing test in March. The same is true of the eighth grade language arts teachers who are also preparing their students for the March test. My faculty arrives early in the morning and stays late in the afternoon to assist students in need of extra support. My staff comes to evening meetings to talk with parents about the Reading, Mathematics, and Science FCATs and SAT tests that will be administered in April. And my team comes early to celebrate student successes and distribute honor roll certificates to their students.

Every year we honor one of these teachers as the Teacher of the Year to represent all of the outstanding teachers at the school and we honor one Rookie Teacher of the Year to showcase the future of our educational system. Let me introduce them to you and tell you why they were chosen.

Ms. Debra Sarauw is the Sunny Isles Beach Community School Teacher of the Year. Ms. Sarauw’s resume is extensive – exemplary first grade teacher, Grade Chairperson of first grade, Chairperson of the African American Heritage Committee, Teacher Mentor, Clinical Education teacher, published poet, church leader, and passionate educator. She is the consummate professional who works tirelessly to ensure that all her children are successful.

Ms. Rose Belizaire is the Sunny Isles Beach Community School Rookie Teacher of the Year. Ms. Belizaire was a student intern at our school and demonstrated early on that she was a notch above the others in her program. We hired her because of her passion for teaching and learning and she has once again proven that she is an exceptional member of our profession. As a fifth grade teacher, Ms. Belizaire arrives early to assist students, serves on various committees, teaches in our after school tutorial program, and stays late to support students on the days she is not tutoring. She is also very active in her church and community.

These teachers serve as models and inspiration for the entire Sunny Isles Beach family. We are so proud of them and their contribution to the field. It is because of teachers like this that all our children receive a wonderful education in spite of the cutbacks and financial hardships that every school must address. Please join me in a round of applause for these dedicated men and women who make such a difference in the lives of our children.

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